Francis Npong, Tamale
A chain saw operator who allegedly felled over 1000 trees in Saboba District in the Northern Region after securing a permit from the district assembly to do so has been arrested by the Yendi police.
The Chain saw operator identified as Dari Abass who is now helping police investigations and his accomplices, now at large were transporting full loads of rosewood beams in two cargo trucks with registration numbers AS 5237X and ER 7362 E to Accra when the tracks were impounded by the youth in Ugando community in the Saboba district on the suspicion of illegality.
The case, which is now before the forestry commission in Yendi has implicated the District Chief Executive for Saboba Mr. Adolf Ali and a number of personnel in the Saboba District Assembly and Saboba Police for complicity and bribery.
Briefing the Enquirer in his office the Northern regional Director of the Forestry Commission Mr. Ebenezer Djaney Djagletey who suspected complicity in the felling of trees among the major stakeholders in the Saboba District indicated his office readiness to bring perpetrators of the act to book irrespective of the position of people involved.
To help the commission deal with the issue, the Director has petitioned the Northern Regional Security Council (REGSEC) to look into the matter citing uncooperative of the district police, issuance of permit by the district assembly and the growing tension between the communities in that Electoral Area.
The Enquirer information indicated that some key personnel of the district including DCE were alleged bribed with unspecified cash by the chain saw operator to allow then carry out his act.
A receipt in possession of the Enquirer dated 18th August 2011 under the heading “permit” issued to Mr. Dari Abass by the Saboba District Assembly reads “Received from Dari Abass the sum of one thousand Ghana cedis (Ghc1,000) on the account of felling trees in the Saboba District” was in fulfillment of the agreement between them.
The illegal lumbering was done at the time the government was spending huge sums of taxpayers money trying to revamp the depleted forest in Ghana and as measures to check climate change.
Currently this issue of lumbering is said to have tempered with the security as communities such as Ugando, Jagrido, and Nangundo were allegedly bracing fight.
For reasons, the forestry commission has petitioned the Northern Regional Security Council to intervene to allow the law to take it course.
The investigative team of the commission though has not been able to ascertain the actual acreage of the forest depleted but the manager pointed out that number of rosewood beams seen around the bushes in the depleted area so far suggested about 5,000 hectares of land would have been affected.
The chain saw operator was allegedly hired by a Tema based wood trading company, to deplete the forest at Saboba District after it was realized the rosewood beams which is currently on high demand in the world market in abundant in the north.
Though the law in Ghana forbids commercial wood logging in any part of northern Ghana, personnel of the Saboba District who were supposed to help enforced government directives rather aid the culprits by granting them permit to the illegitimate act.
Speaking in a telephone interview, the Yendi Forestry manager Mr. Henry Kudiabo said alleged that the Saboba District police were frustrating the move by the commission to deal with the lumbering in the area. He said that the police were not cooperating with his office leaving room to suspect some complicity.
He was also unhappy with the personnel of the saboba District Assembly for issuing permit to the chain saw operators to cut down trees when his office was making efforts to revamp the already depleted vegetation in the region.
“The tree felling was going on in the district for month now but the assembly did nothing to stop it
but rather aid”, he said. The efforts to contact the DCE for Saboba District Mr. Adolf Ali for his comment was unsuccessful as all his phone lines available to the Enquirer could not go through. However the
Enquirer was informed the DCE had travelled out of the district when it made a subsequent phone call to the District assembly. Thousands of agricultural farm lands have been affected in the process, which would affect food security by reducing agriculture potentials that engages thousands of youth. The area is predominantly a farming area and the livelihoods of the people depended on agriculture. This means that lost of biodiversity that would affect soil fertility is eminent, while desertification that comes with climate change and its associated effects would also be expected if the forest is not revamped in shortest period.
The government Ghana is currently working closely with its agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA), The Forestry Commission and Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and ministry of lands, and Natural Resources in collaboration with international development agencies to revamp forest in Ghana to increase agriculture potentials, check climate change and enhance food security. These objectives might not be achieved if the deforestation in the region continuous with a larger or commercial scale hence the need to put a stop to the illegal felling of trees.